WHITESBORO -- As the American Heart Association gears up for the 45th annual heart run and walk, one heart disease and stroke survivor is taking on his first year as a red cap survivor ambassador.
The organization gave an overview of the 2019 America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk and announced this year's red cap survivor ambassadors at their kick-off event at Hart’s Hill Inn in Whitesboro.
One of those ambassador’s is Jaxon Hayes who, at a glance, looks like your average 4-year-old. However, you'd be surprised at how much he's been through at such a young age.
“At two-days old, he had the open-heart surgery so, it was a very quick whirlwind.” said Cindy Hayes, Jaxon’s mother. “He’s born with total anomalous pulmonary venous return … The blood flow was going in the wrong directions."
Jaxon was born a twin. While his sister did not suffer heart defects, Jaxson was taken to several different hospitals across the state in hopes of fixing the problem.
“He did also suffer a stroke at some point,” Hayes said. “We noticed when he was one-year-old that there was some issues with walking and his right side so we had to push with the doctors, and finally had an MRI done that confirmed he had a stroke.”
Dealing with Jaxon’s heart defect led his family to join the heart run and walk.
“Just having the support of others that have been through the same thing, and just to raise awareness to others about these conditions to be educated.” said Hayes.
As a red cap ambassador, Jaxon's story will help people learn more about heart disease. Today Jaxon is completely cured but his mother will never forget the difficult times.
“It was very emotional, I think I held a lot of emotions in, and just forced myself to be as strong as I could for them, and still do.”
There are two red cap survivor ambassadors for the 2019 heart run & walk. Angel Woolheater is a red cap survivor from Utica. Woolheater is a stroke survivor who is also awaiting a heart transplant.
This year's heart run and walk will be held on March 2, at Utica College.
If you are interested in participating, a minimum amount of $30 in pledges for participants is required at registration.